Raid On: Tomb Raider’s ‘Exploration System’

By Adam Smith on February 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Lara Croft is Batman! Maybe. At the very least, she seems to have been watching the caped crusader carefully, although her study of his Arkham adventures doesn’t extend to mimicking Wayne’s restraint. When she’s firing ziplines across chasms or attaching rope arrows to destructible scenery to create new routes, she’d look right at home in Rocksteady’s Gotham, but then she shoots a deer in the face at point blank range, or sneaks up on a villain and perforates him unto dying. Batman would just break every limb in sight and then move on. The latest Tomb Raider ‘Survival Guide’ builds up to the reveal of an ‘exploration system’ that you may recognise from elsewhere. It’s called ‘fast travel’.

There’s nothing wrong with explaining the terminology and it’s all too easy to assume everybody is swimming daily in the gaming lexicon, but that’s not going to stop me being amused by a trailer about ‘fast travel’ and ‘gear gating’. They could have at last come up with a silly name – ‘Rapid Raider Relocation’ perhaps, or simply ‘Larapalooza’.

Whatever the case, I admit to being confounded by this new Tomb Raider. I expect there are elements of it that will make me shrug and others that will make me frown, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a great deal to enjoy as well. Seeing the map, with all of its collectibles and base camps, the game starts to take shape in my mind, but I’m still not convinced that I realise how all the parts fit together, or even if some of those parts are at all what they seem to be. It all looked very Uncharted for a while and then it sounded a bit more crafty-Crofty, but now it looks sort of like Far Cry Asylum (I did want to write ‘Farkham Asylum’ but it was stupid and sounded rude when I said it out loud in a cockney accent’).

We’ll find out in March.

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86 Comments »

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  1. SandmanXC says:

    Why can’t we have trailers without that insuferable blockbuster voice? That’s why I enjoy Kickstarter pitch videos..

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I see where you are coming from and that type of voice placing does get under my skin sometimes too. But I’m a whole lot more bummed by trailers that don’t show even one frame of in-game footage and this one has plenty of it. I think what they are doing here is nothing short of… the right way to present a game to an audience. And I’ll be damned if I care one bit about the guy narrating it to me :)

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      IN A WORLD WHERE …
      ONE WO/MAN MUST …
      TO SAVE …
      … IS …

      Insert terms as appropriate.

    • GameCat says:

      “enjoy”
      “Kickstarter pitch video”

      I hope you don’t mean “Hey, I’m John Doe, developer of XYZ game here, let me talk to the camera for 5 minutes about how I love my game and then I show you 15 second of concept arts at the end of this pitch” videos.
      They are absolutely horrible and they are reason that I watch Kickstarter videos only if there’s a 90% chance it will show me pure gameplay, not some dude face.

      • Bhazor says:

        Listening to people who care about their game is infinitely better than the usual actor or gravel gargling narrator.

        Besides they still tell you more about the game than the average AAA game trailer.

      • Werthead says:

        If most Kickstarter game pitch videos are asking for money to make the game in the first place, presumably it would be difficult to show gameplay. Concept art or mock-ups, sure, but without time travel actual gameplay might be tricky. For games further down the pipe, like Planetary Annihilation and FTL, clearly it is possible.

        The only example I can think of recently where a project could have shown footage but then chose not to was Elite: Dangerous, which was silly because we knew they had footage (due to them showing it on their office screens in the back of the Kickstarter videos).

        • GameCat says:

          So if you doesn’t have gameplay prototype yet, don’t waste your time on silly videos and make that prototype.

        • Xocrates says:

          Actually, Planetary Annihilation hasn’t shown a single bit of gameplay footage yet. The pitch video was an artist render of what they wanted the game to be like, no actual game logic was in place.

          • RaiderJoe says:

            I was just about to say that. It just goes to show you that even us PC gamers can be fooled by shiny pitch videos. That’s why I usually don’t do kickstarter, as happy as I am about some of the games it’s funded.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Ha ha. I’d even say that despite all the bitching at publishers, they are probably much less likely to be fooled by a shiny concept video than gamers. They’ve seen so many of them and are perfectly aware of how advanced into the game most dev studios are when they make a pitch (read: not much). Whereas on kickstarter, unrealistic expectations and superficiality abounds among backers… just read the comments.

    • Vicki_Garland says:

      my neighbor’s sister makes $86 hourly on the internet. She has been without a job for 5 months but last month her payment was $17351 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site… http://www.huffingtonpost.com.qr.net/j8b7

    • Noise says:

      I agree the voiceover is ATROCIOUS but I haven’t actually seen it in many game trailers before

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I have little doubt it will be an enjoyable romp, but why call it Tomb Raider? Call it Feisty McBitchpants and be done with it.

    • Screamer says:

      McBITCHFACE?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      If it features Lady McBitchypants Croft anyway, why not use the title her game had previously?

      • Xocrates says:

        They didn’t use it for Guardian of Light, so why should they use it with this one?

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          Because that one was first and foremost a twin-stick arena shooter. This here is a game that focuses on exploration, third-person perspective gameplay and all.

          • Xocrates says:

            It still had more tomb raiding than this one appears to have.

          • Kitsuninc says:

            Apparently Tomb Raider will have more tombs to raid than…err…Tomb Raider.

            Seriously though, tomb raiding is a thing which is in the game, but from the sound of it, more of an optional task than anything.

        • The_B says:

          Resident Evil hasn’t been set exclusively in a single house since the first one.

          • Xocrates says:

            My post was mostly a jab at RedViv pointing out that there have been games with Lara Croft that weren’t called Tomb Raider, and that the justification for that one could be extended to this one.

            I do not actually have a problem with the name (other than disliking the practice of using the same name as something else)

  3. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Looks pretty crappy TBH & forced MP is something an SP only experience should never ever have I am still amazed its been 5 years since the last full game (Underworld) what on earth have Crystal Dynamics been doing with this game for all that time surely not working on it 24/7 it sure does not look anything special more like an ugly Far Cry 3 than anything else.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Here, those are free, but bring your own ones next time: . . . . . . . . , , , , , , , , ,

      • brulleks says:

        Win.

        That is all.

      • RaiderJoe says:

        Do me a favor: kill the word “ones”. It’s just “these” or “those”. Brilliant comment otherwise.

        • Kitsuninc says:

          In most cases, “Ones” is just unnecessary filler, like like, except like, where I just used like, but not like, that other like, or the like right there either.

          Sorry, got a bit off track.

    • Dowson says:

      And breath.

    • Premium User Badge

      Surlywombat says:

      surely not working on it 24/7

      You are probably right, they maybe even get time off at weekends and nights!

  4. kataras says:

    Hmm I think for me this will really depend on whether those rope arrows and hooks can be fired anywhere (or at least suitable surfaces like Thief) or just pre-designated points with QTE.

    Far Cry 3’s confined asylum was a bit disappointing in the end. I want a game where inmates can run free…

    • botonjim says:

      Everything will be pretty much pre-designated if the Arkham Asylum comparison is anything to go by.

    • Premium User Badge

      Fontan says:

      From the trailer, it seems the rope can be attached only to the wooden parts that have rope around them, as she throws the arrow at those similar surfaces every time.

      Maybe the hook can only go on those types of rock to climb, as well?

  5. maximiZe says:

    Looks like yet another theme park disguised as an “open world”. Why can’t we have games with simple goals and organic challenges emerging from the world design instead of shitty hotspots and “destroy 10 gas lamps for EXP” anymore?

    • Bhazor says:

      Hey nothing says “traversing a dangerous hostile environment” quite like fast travel.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      Yes, I will also be skipping this by the looks of it. It looks very ‘cinematic’, I suppose, but those preset bits and set pieces are exactly the parts of FC3 that I didn’t enjoy.

      I’m happy with slightly less film-esque animation and camerawork in these modern new-fangled games if it meant more of just being a game that I control that doesn’t turn into funny camera things with QTEs when I do something the designers wanted to be dramatic.

      Grumble grumble.

    • SelfEsteemFund says:

      Welcome to the future, it’s wank.

      Actually, I bet my brand new mousepad (full serious) this will genuinely be the worst tomb raider game & a huge let down to all fans while the ‘critics’ will plaster it with glowing reviews. Just you wait and see

      • Prime says:

        Sometimes the Internet is just adorable. This is not one of those times.

        If the game installs and runs it will already have proven itself a better Tomb Raider game than the steaming pile that was Angel of Darkness. Full serious.

    • Josh W says:

      We can, but those games are generally indie, low graphics, and often with a top down view. Graphics makes things hard.

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    So it’s Far Cry.

  7. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I’m probably going to be hammered by saying this, but what the hell…

    I just don’t understand what gave the idea to Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix that just because they are calling this a Tomb Raider reboot, that should mean they could alter completely the appearance of the main character to the point of having become completely unrecognizable from who we came to see as Lara Croft in video games.

    This isn’t a movie where payed actors may get old or refuse to pay a role in a sequel. Admittedly I haven’t seen the first Survival Guide neither haven’t read on the general reaction to the first concept art images. Maybe this is old news and you want people to shut up about it already. Feel free to ignore me if that is the case.

    It’s clearly a artistic decision. But what could possibly make anyone in that team think that there was a need for it? Was there ever some negative public reaction to the former character? Was there ever a loss of iconic status of the image we came to know as Lara Croft? Is this about some copyright issue I’m not aware of?

    I’m all for change. But change better explain itself, otherwise I’m against it on general principle. I was taken completely aback by the looks of this new character. I won’t lie to you. I didn’t like it. But I really would like to understand how anyone in their right mind could think that it was a good idea to completely eliminate this iconic figure. I don’t remember this ever been done on any game to this date. Not to the extent it became a completely different person.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      “I’m all for change. But change better explain itself”

      Old Lara Croft looked weird and had balloons shoved under her top.

      Also see Devil May Cry for the most recent example of a franchise doing this

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I was unaware that this character was so badly viewed by the gaming community. Caught me by surprise there.

        Oh well. That explains it then.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          http://tombraiders.net/stella/images/timeline/lara_croft_evolution.jpg

          The last one in this timeline is really good actually, but the others look like they’ve been created by either:

          1) An alien who has only had a woman described to him by a teenager.

          2) A genius who knows exactly what sells video games to boys.

          I’m guessing the old Lara has been stained (pun very much intended) by her status as pixelwank material, and the devs decided this wasn’t what they wanted to make anymore. Don’t get me wrong, some of the games were great but old Lara was a product of her time and times are changing.

          Oh and I hope you don’t think I’m hammering you – just sharing my opinion!!!

    • Didero says:

      This Lara is the (grand)daughter of the Lara Croft from the previous games.
      There, solved it with head-canon :P

    • Ross Angus says:

      I think the older games tended to redesign the character anyway – there was quite a discrepancy between the art style in-game, and the FMV in the first six games. Then the Angel of Darkness, then Legend. As someone who’s played almost every game, I’d struggle to describe Lara as a character anyway. She’s rarely given motivation or emotion. I’d welcome a bottom-up rebuild (pun not intended).

    • neems says:

      She looks like an attractive brunette, and has a British accent? Okay she appears to be slightly less well-endowed than previous incarnations, but that just makes her look more like a real person surely. I’m reasonably certain that if she was wearing hotpants nobody would notice any difference.

      On an unrelated note, is that how arrows work? I’m no expert, but I have my doubts.

  8. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    There is no “U” in “Lara”, dear voice-over person. And director, I guess. DO YOUR JOBS!

    Ahem. Inconsistency grinds.

    • snajk says:

      I remember reading somewhere that they were gonna call her Laura but they discovered that when an american said Laura it sounded like Lara so they just changed it to that instead.

  9. Premium User Badge

    felisc says:

    mh. seeing a menu when sitting at a fireplace makes me want to play some more dark souls. sorry lara.

  10. Prime says:

    So…they’ve taken the Metroidvania gameplay conceit – areas are locked until the right abilities or tools are found – and applied it to a Skyrim style worldmap?

    I’m not hating that.

    • Syra says:

      I’d like to introduce you to my friend Link and his never ending quest to find his girlfriend Zelda. It’s kind of a Legend, so you know.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Skyward Sword is the only one that I would count as almost Metroidvania, due to the strong separation of dungeons and traversing the overworld in the others.

      • Prime says:

        Oh please god no, not Zelda. Trying to play Ocarina of Time – “OMG, such a classic” – was like having really painful dentistry perpetrated upon my person. I’ve not touched the series since.

        Did Zelda have a map that you could click on to fast-travel around the land? I did not know that.

        • Kitsuninc says:

          In fairness, OoT was on the N64. If you don’t like any of the games from Wind Waker on…then, fair enough, but saying you hate Zelda because you hated OoT is like saying you hate Resident Evil without having played anything other than vanilla RE.

          I don’t really like Zelda much, but it’s still an extremely solid series, even if every one has basically been a rehash, Majora’s Mask aside.

        • Brun says:

          Trying to play Ocarina of Time – “OMG, such a classic” – was like having really painful dentistry perpetrated upon my person.

          Blasphemy.

          Did Zelda have a map that you could click on to fast-travel around the land?

          No, but most of them had a means by which you could “Warp” to different points on the map. Ocarina of Time used Ocarina Songs to warp you to different fixed locations in the world.

  11. DaftPunk says:

    This fast travel and customization feels so forced on,not every game needs to have this stupid shit for fuck sake. Fast traveling,hm with it you lose survival aspect of game,imagine you don’t have that and you need to walk to every place you already visited but there is possible threat in terms of wolves,bears or komodo dragons (?).

    .I mean it looks nice but this is not tomb raider..I am disappointed,with every video i lose more and more interest in this game.

    • maximiZe says:

      Instagib arrows which apparently never break and can be collected after firing, dumb-ass AI and scripts all over the place basically ruined any chance for a decent survival feeling for me anyway.

      • Citrus says:

        Well they didn’t get the memo that players were expecting real life simulation in their arcade game. Derp.

  12. matnym says:

    It’s actually starting to look like a Tomb Raider game I can enjoy. I’ve had a love/hate feel about the previous games.

    The problem with this series, in my opinion, has always been the linearity. A puzzle can only be solved in one way. Say you happen to find a ledge you can clearly grab onto, you still fall to your death because the developers didn’t intend for you to take that path. The other issue is the stupid level of action. I was playing Underworld the other day and early in the campaign you’re on a cargo ship were you do nothing but shoot bad guy. It’s Rambo Croft and feels completely out of place. For the reboot it seems they’re dealing with the former issue at least.

    I’m still cautious with my hype though. I’m not going to expect too much from a AAA game because Rambo gameplay sells well. And I’m still questioning their approach to make the game seem more mature. “Look, she’s getting cut, drowned, burned alive, impaled by spikes and molested. She’s so real!” Hmm… it’s a bit try-hard to be honest.

  13. RegisteredUser says:

  14. Bhazor says:

    On the plus side no bondage or creepy rape QTEs to show off. So well done on that.

    On the down side she’s still rolling about in the jungle bare armed. Hope she’ll pick up something with sleeves before she gets swamp mud in one of those wolf bites.

    Also the narrator sounds so patronising I keep expecting a hand to reach out and pat her on the head. Maybe that’ll be one of the Kinect features.

  15. Wurstwaffel says:

    I’m getting sort of a Zelda/Darksiders vibe from the level structure and the gadgets. So it’s not going to be entirely linear. Sounds good if you ask me

  16. guygodbois00 says:

    Always adored the fake optimism of Mr. Smith. Or should I’ve said – reserved.
    We’ll find out in March, indeed.

  17. Shooop says:

    I saw more cutscenes than player action in that.

    Never a good sign.

    • DClark says:

      If you’re concerned about gameplay then I’d suggest going to TombRaider.com and checking out ‘Videos> Interviews and Demos> Extended 60+ Minute Tomb Raider Demo — IGN Live’.

      I’m not much of a ‘preorderer’ (XCOM is the only game in 2012 I preordered), but I preordered this game based on the 60 minute IGN video as well as the ‘The Final Hours’ videos (plus the fact that I enjoyed Anniversary and Legend; yet to get around to playing Underworld though).

  18. Scare Tactics says:

    So they’re calling her Laura Croft now?

  19. Milky1985 says:

    Why do you need a shotgun to blast barricades? Don’t you have feet or a shoulder you can use to barge your way through them.

    • Citrus says:

      Do you know how expensive it is to motion capture? You want them to spend money on pointless jumping captures while they can do same thing with shotgun?

      • DaftPunk says:

        Wtf did you just replied,you don’t need motion capture for fluid animaton for christ sake,stop defending this game.. I mean she is on desert island,she barely find a bow then she have shotguna and submachine gun :| Sure…And she even use shotgun for obstacles ? wtf

    • DClark says:

      Remember it’s the woman who says “Don’t do that, you’ll dislocate your shoulder” when a man tries to break down a door; she’s just acting like a normal woman who lacks a man’s upper body strength (and willingness to dislocate a shoulder to open a door). That being said, it’s just a device to prevent players from getting into areas before they have access to the shotgun. Better that than make Lara go barefooted through the game until she finds a pair of boots which then lets her kick down doors.

      The part that I liked was the section of the trailer when Lara is in the rushing river and is approaching the blockage – that would be a classic scene for a quicktime event where a button would flash on the screen and you’d have to press it to watch a cutscene, but instead you have to take out your shotgun and shoot the blockage.

  20. f1x says:

    Seems like I’m the only one that wants to play this game…

    I’m gonna be so alternative!

  21. Kynrael says:

    Rope arrows !!

    … Oh wait, wrong game.

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  23. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    This post made me think of when I would read about new JRPGs as a kid, and they’d always have a name for a new feature that sounded insane and Engrishy, and then I’d read the description and realize it was just a fancy name for something all RPGs do. Like so:

    Liminal Zoroaster System – you can equip things

    Tangled Skein System – you can buy hats

    Homunculus Grandpa System – you get experience points

    I kind of miss that. I mean, it was just unconscionably dishonest and silly, but I always enjoyed it.

  24. MiloticMaster says:

    I wasnt too sure about this being open-world because then there would be no ‘tombs’ in ‘Tomb Raider’, but with this kind of exploration its looks like it might work out. The linearity of old Tomb Raider did make for some very good puzzles though, maybe they can pull that off.
    Also narrator, stop being so excited. Equipping gear? Fast travel? These are not new things. Just explain the game please; before you introduce back-tracking as a new concept. Oh wait, you already did.

    • DClark says:

      It’s not actually open world; the story advances through a series of hubs. Also there are tombs in this game (as I understand it there are tombs that are part of the main storyline and side tombs for exploration purposes).